Tesla Motors Quietly Removes 85-kWh Battery Option For Model S Electric Car, Leaving 70-kWh and 90-kWh

In the automotive world, it’s considered normal for an automaker to keep the specifications of a vehicle the same for an entire model-year lineup, making any major changes like engine options or entertainment tweaks at the crossover point where one model year becomes the next.

California automaker Tesla Motors has never followed that practice. Instead, it has strived to add new features and capabilities to its luxury electric cars as and when they are ready for market, keeping buyers and fans on their toes and continually improving the vehicle lineup. Over the past year alone, Tesla has surprised buyers with both a new 70 kWh battery pack and longer-range top-end 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack as well as performance-oriented ‘Ludicrous’ mode for even quicker 0-60 times and rolled out new autopilot features for autopilot hardware-enabled cars.

Tesla has removed all Model S 85 kWh battery pack options from its store.

Tesla has removed all Model S 85 kWh battery pack options from its store.

Along with those improvements, Tesla has continually removed options that were no-longer popular with buyers. Last year, this included the deletion of the previous-available entry-level 60 kWh battery pack and the removal of rear-wheel drive as an option for the Tesla Model S 85.

For some time, that left those considering a Model S a choice of three battery packs to choose from: the entry-level 70 kWh pack from $70,000 before incentives when paired with a rear-wheel drivetrain; the mid-range 85 kWh pack from around $85,000 for the standard all-wheel drive 85D, and the high-end 90 kWh pack for those wanting the longest-possible range.

If you want a new 85 kWh Model S, you're out of luck.

If you want a new 85 kWh Model S, you’re out of luck.

Today however, after removing all 85 kWh model S options from stores in certain markets last week, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] confirmed that it has now completely removed the 85 kWh battery pack option for Model S customers. As of today, if you place an order for a Tesla Model S, you’ll have to choose between the Tesla Model S 70, the Tesla Model S 70D, the Tesla Model S 90D, or the Tesla Model S P90D.

While the entry-level Model S 70 with rear-wheel drive can still be purchased for $70,000 before incentives (plus $1,200 destination and documentation fees), with the 70D costing $75,000, it now means those wanting a longer-range Model S will have to shell out $88,000 for a Model S capable of travelling more than 240 miles per charge.

As previously, the high-end Tesla Model S P90D will set buyers back $108,000 plus $1,200 in destination and document fees before incentives or extras, while the Ludicrous speed upgrade package will add another $10,000 to that price.

The recently introduced 90kWh battery pack offers unprecedented range and value that has been well received by our customers. As a result, we will no longer be offering the 85kWh battery. Model S is designed to be completely customizable, ensuring that customers are able to build the car that meets their unique needs and Tesla is committed to continued innovation and the development of industry-leading technology,” a Tesla spokesperson said in response to a query about why Tesla had decided to drop the 85 kWh battery configuration from sale.

Tesla declined to provide details of how popular the Tesla Model S 70, 85 and 90 variants were with customers, stating that it did not break down such figures. 

While not technically a price increase, it does mean there’s a hefty gap of $13,000 between the dual-motor 70D and the next model up. To put it another way, that’s enough money to buy a brand-new 2015 Chevrolet Spark LS, or around $270 for each of the 48 additional miles of range the Model S 90D has over the Model S 70D.

Why do we think Tesla dropped the 85 kWh battery pack option? Simply put, cost. Since its launch, the Tesla Model X crossover SUV, a car which has taken up a lot of Tesla’s attention and energy in recent months, has only been available in 70 kWh and 90 kWh variants. The Model S meanwhile, has been available with 70kWh, 85kWh and 90 kWh variants.

These are the options that await you if you want a new Tesla Model S.

These are the options that await you if you want a new Tesla Model S.

And that’s meant Tesla has been producing one battery pack specifically for the Model S, significantly raising production costs and overheads. Removing the 85 kWh battery option and bringing Model S battery choices in line with the Model X should help it reap some savings at its Fremont production facility.

For an automaker whose stock price has tumbled to a two-year low of $147.99, that’s a very important thing indeed.

Do you think Tesla is right to drop the Model S 85D from its lineup? Are you happy with this effective increase? Or do you think Tesla is failing on its mission to make electric cars more affordable for everyone?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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